It never fails – as soon as we hit the open highway, I’m hungry. It could have something (or everything) to do with the countless convenience stores, drive-ins, and diners at every exit; not to mention the billboards that line the roadside, enticing people to take the next exit for a meal or a quick snack. These little fast-food diversions don’t come without a cost, however. They are both expensive AND usually rather environmentally un-friendly. A little pre-planning is all that it takes to stay green and healthy away from home.
Bulk up! – stop at your favourite bulk foods store for dried fruits, nuts, and organic snacks, and then repackage them at home in reusable containers and bags, like the lined ones pictured above, by Bells and Unicorns. (Tip: set out several bowls of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, candy and pretzels and let everyone create their own trail mix. Colour-code or label bags for easy identification on the road.)
It’s a wrap! – we are all sandwich artists at heart. Wraps, sandwiches, and subs can be made at home for a fraction of what you’ll pay on the road. Get creative with fillings and condiments, and be sure to pack high-moisture ingredients (like cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce) in separate containers to keep them from sogging up your bread. When choosing reusable sandwich bags, be sure to pick ones that are generously sized, like these (above) by http://www.etsy.com/shop/bellsandunicorns, to allow for healthy, hearty breads and fillings.
Keep your cool! – perishables, drinks, and fruit can be kept fresh in a cooler even on the hottest of days. Make your own ice packs by freezing recyclable tetra-packs of juice or by filling zipper-bags with crushed ice, which you can refill with fresh ice at stops along the way. And don’t let me catch you buying bottled water! Steel bottles, like the ones above by Pretty n Preppy, can be refilled over and over and keep your water fresh and cool. Eco-savvy coffee drinkers never leave home without their trusty travel mugs. Not only do they cut down on litter, they’ll usually save you a few cents per refill, too. Caffeine-heads and fabric-holics alike will love these colourful travel mugs (above), also by Pretty n Preppy.
…and if you do have to stop for snacks, instead of loading up on sketchy pre-wrapped sandwiches, chips and candy at the gas station, seek out roadside fruit/vegetable stands, local grocery stores, bakeries, and farmer’s markets (if you are lucky to be traveling on market days). Some of the best meals I have had on the road have consisted of fresh-off-the-vine fruit, local artisan cheeses, and freshly baked breads purchased right from the people who picked/made them. Be prepared by making sure you have cutlery included with your picnic essentials*. The handy Urban Picnic Roll-up, pictured above, by Nstar Studio includes two three-piece utensil sets & two napkins. The utensils are made from durable, sustainable bamboo and can be simply hand washed and air dried after use.
Lastly, take the time to stop and enjoy your meals and snacks. Pre-plan your stops or keep an eye out for picnic spots and parks along the way. Not only is it a chance to stretch your legs and let the kids run off some energy, it’s often the little stops along the way that make for the best memories. Pack an oversized vintage quilt for the whole family, or give everyone their own place to cop a squat. These organic travel blankets by Crzy Bag Lady can function as mini-picnic pads, change mats, stroller blankets and sleep-mats. Compact in size, but super-comfy, they’re ideal travel companions for the green family-on-the-go.
*Packable picnic essentials: blanket and/or tablecloth, reusable plates/bowls/cups, reusable cutlery, salt & pepper, bottle opener, can opener, cloth napkins, sharp knife, cutting board, bags for collecting garbage/recyclables (when containers are not available on-site), small container of dish-soap for clean-ups.
I would love to hear about your summer road trip adventures. Comment below and share your stories and advice!